Horse riders, cyclists and carriage drivers in Wheathampstead have had their off-road routes extended thanks to funding from Sport England and the work of The British Horse Society (BHS) volunteers.
The 420-metre route, which runs along an old tree-lined road, had been incorrectly recorded as a footpath on the Definitive Map near Mackeyre End, instead of its correct restricted byway status.
Due to the cut-off date prescribed in the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, the higher restricted byway status would have been extinguished on 1 January 2026, as evidence such as historical maps will no longer be taken into account to prove a higher right existed.
Twenty thousand off-road routes for horse and riders in England are under threat from being extinguished by the 2026 cut-off date.
In 2013 Sport England provided £10,000 of funding to collect evidence to record routes at their correct status.
Phil Wadey, BHS volunteer and co-author of ‘Rights of Way: Restoring the Record’, who completed the application said: “I’m pleased that equestrians and others are now able to correctly use this route.
“With just nine years left until the 2026 deadline we must collaborate with others and act now to safeguard historic routes for others to use in the future, before they are extinguished simply for not being on a particular piece of paper."
The BHS has worked with Open Spaces Society and the Ramblers to provide training for others to research and record their routes.
Mark Weston, Director of Access and Rights of Way, said: “We’re delighted this funding is now securing more equestrian routes for riders now and for future generations. The BHS is urging everyone to do their bit and research the routes they walk, cycle, ride and carriage drive, to make sure they’re recorded on the Definitive Map before 2026.”
Modifications to remove a gate will be made to allow riders and carriage drivers to access the route.